The Olympic Park
August 12, 2012 6 Comments
By Rob Packer
The London Olympics are coming to an end after two magical weeks. There is an infectious buzz in the air. The opening ceremony was spectacular and the sport breath-taking. Medals were won: dreams shattered. The tube didn’t go into meltdown and the city didn’t seize up. The British seem to have reconciled themselves with their flag and anthem, and Team GB has had its most successful Games in a century—especially compared with the humiliation of Atlanta. Usain Bolt charmed London and it feels Yohan Blake will in Rio. I and countless others have new heroes in Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and the rest of the GB cycling team, the sculler from Niger cheered by the crowd to the finish line, and others too numerous to list here. The sun even shined, even if autumn will probably be bitterer than normal. The biggest frustration has been getting tickets over days awash with constant website refreshes that would try the patience of Job. And then finally when most people were distracted by a keirin final, my brother managed to wangle some tickets for hockey in London’s temporary Holiest of Holies, the Olympic Park.
Ok, it was only for a 7th- and 9th-place play-off; the pitch was an eye-poppingly garish combination of hot pink and cornflower blue; and the clips of music to accompany penalty corners, video referrals and the like were borderline bathetic. But it’s hard to stand in front of the Velodrome or Aquatics Centre and not goggle at their sinuosity, or not be impressed at how this beautiful parkland has been magicked out of an industrial wasteland. The most impressive and surprising part of this transformation is bank after bank after bank after bank of brightly coloured wildflowers, all in bloom and packed tightly like brushstrokes in an Impressionist painting. From a distance they don’t look like much and sometimes need an artist’s eye for detail to appreciate, but they are also part of national identity in that they symbolize a sort of rural Ur-Britain that few have ever seen—and I’m hard-pushed to name more than the hockey-pitch blue cornflowers. But they really are beautiful: